Clarke to extend school hours

School opening hours are to be extended from 8am to 6pm to help
working parents with child care, the education secretary Charles
Clarke has announced.

Ninety per cent of working parents will be able to use family
tax credits to pay for school-based nursery care, and breakfast,
after-school and holiday clubs, Clarke told a conference organised
by charity 4Children. He said that child care was often not
flexible enough, despite one million new places being created in
the past seven years.

“Parents and children too often have to move between nursery,
school, childminder and child care club to obtain the child care
they need,” he said. And the provision often stops during school

A 4Children survey of 1,100 schools showed that almost half
already run breakfast clubs, a third have after-school clubs and 39
per cent run holiday play schemes. Two thirds wished to become
“extended schools.”

Clarke acknowledged that it would take time for schools to offer
complete “wraparound” child care and stressed that private and
voluntary sector partnerships would be needed to make it

Clarke also pledged that by March 2008, all under-fives in the
20 per cent most deprived wards in England will have access to
children’s centres, offering early education and child care
and support services for parents.

Child care and parents’ charities have welcomed the
announcement. Jan Fry from Parentline Plus said: “We are keen to
see that the extra-curricular activities provided by schools are
not all academic.”

Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the TUC, said: “Crucial to
extended schools must be the availability of social services and
psychological support to help vulnerable children.”

– More about the schools survey can be found at

– More about the plans for wraparound school-based child care
can be found at

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